Surrey Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative Government of “incompetence and chaos” after the autumn statement paved the way for tax hikes and cuts to services for people in Surrey.
The Chancellor and South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt’s measures come in the wake of economic turmoil following the “mini-budget” which saw mortgage rates spike to record levels.
Among a raft of plans to get the UK economy back on a stable footing, Mr Hunt said councils would be given “additional flexibility” to change council tax levels – in a move that could see council tax bills jump by more than £100 next April.
But shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, warned the “council tax bombshell” will force residents “to pay more because of the destruction that the Conservatives have reaped on our economy” and called on residents to ask themselves one important question: “Are me and my family better off with a Conservative government? And the answer is no.”
Surrey’s Lib Dem group leader, Will Forster, echoed Labour’s critcism as well as calling for a “proper” windfall tax on oil and gas companies profiting from the current spike in wholesale energy prices.
Councillor Forster said: “This is the cost of chaos budget. Everyone is being forced to pay the price for this Conservative government’s incompetence.
“People in Surrey are being asked to pick up the bill for the Conservative party crashing the economy, while oil and gas giants are left off the hook. People here are being forced to suffer unfair tax hikes and cuts to our public services for years to come.
“We know that the county council’s budget is already under considerable pressure and today’s announcements will not make balancing the books any easier. It remains to be seen whether the Tory administration decides to use the extra flexibility they will have to set a much higher level of council tax, to help make up the shortfall.
“We need a fair deal, including support for people unable to afford skyrocketing mortgage bills and rents, and protecting funding for local health services.
“This could be paid for by reversing tax cuts for banks and a proper windfall tax, instead of imposing years of stealth taxes on ordinary families. This is an out-of-touch government which has no plan to help people in Surrey with their bills.”
For months, the Lib Dems have been calling for a tougher windfall tax on oil and gas giants to help pay for help with energy bills and support for the vulnerable.
They are also calling for a Mortgage Protection Fund to help people in Surrey and across the country struggling to pay their mortgage, which they would fund through reversing tax cuts for the big banks.